When Was Electronic Music Most Popular?

Synthesizers began becoming more affordable – RCA’s Trautonium, Yamaha DX7 and Roland Odyssey each sold over one million units and enabled a new generation of artists to explore synth pop, new wave and electro genres.

In the 1990s, dance music expanded from dubstep wobbles to mega-clubs and festivals, led by stars like Daft Punk and Tiesto.

The 1970s

In the 1970s, synthesizers first became accessible, enabling musicians to use electronic sound equipment and form entirely new genres of music – such as electronic dance music, industrial music and new age music.

Rock and pop musicians increasingly used electronic equipment to add effects and refine their sound, such as the Theremin. This unique instrument didn’t require physical contact for it to produce sounds; other electronic instruments, like the Moog synthesizer used by bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Genesis all used these devices as part of progressive rock musical styles.

At this time, composers such as Varese, Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel were creating pioneering works combining electronic music with musique concrete (an avant-garde form of composition that involves recording various sounds generated by laboratory equipment) before employing a technique called splicing to craft them into musical works).

Another significant development was the establishment of studios dedicated to electronic music creation, including BBC Radiophonic Workshop and San Francisco Tape Music Center. These enabled composers to experiment with new techniques – such as using pulsating frequencies – leading to works such as Kagel’s Transicion II for four-channel tape and piano composition.

At the end of the 1970s, disco had become a worldwide sensation and synth sound an integral component of it. At this point in time, acts such as Ultravox, Depeche Mode and Spandau Ballet led new wave, becoming particularly successful internationally with Spandau Ballet being especially influential. These pioneering acts also employed futuristic visual styles that reinforced the idea that their music reflected its times while remaining highly connected with technology.

The 1980s

In the 1930s, sound speed-adjusting technology was developed which permitted simultaneous use of different sounds at once, enabling composers to compose soundtracks for early movie films and mix sounds electronically in ways previously impossible with traditional techniques – leading to the creation of synchronized and graphical sounds used in animated movies. Interest in electronic music saw significant increases during WWII; composers began incorporating electronics into their works.

In 1948, the first radiophonic works were created. Pierre Schaeffer’s Etude aux chemins de fer was one such radiophonic piece broadcast by Radiodiffusion Francaise that utilized two variable speed turntables and frequency recordings to produce experimental electronic music piece that became widely known. This marked an early example of computer music.

By the 1950s, electronic instruments and equipment had become more readily accessible to consumers. Acoustic synthesizers and drum machines provided musicians with an easy way to add electronic sounds into their music compositions.

This led to a boom of popular music that combined electronic elements, such as disco, which was heavily influenced by synthesizers and drum machines. New age music also increasingly relied heavily on electronics, with artists such as Vangelis and Kitaro becoming prominent figures.

The 1980s witnessed an upsurge in electronic music as synthesizers became more accessible and digital audio recording became the standard. This decade also witnessed a proliferation of synth-pop bands such as Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, A Flock of Seagulls Culture Club and Talk Talk becoming prominent practitioners in this genre.

The 1980s also witnessed the growth of synth rock with acts like American Devo and Spanish Aviador Dro incorporating synthesizers as key elements of their music. Industrial music, techno and EDM were also introduced; along with Roland TR-808 drum machines which became an essential element of Detroit techno scene.

The 1990s

In the 1990s, innovations in music technology allowed synthesizers to become accessible to a broader range of musicians, leading to greater use and adoption by musicians of various stripes. This revolutionized their use and helped lead to new genres such as New Wave and synth pop – more commercial approaches to electronic music which also mirrored pop music’s development over time.

In the 1990s, Midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was developed. This advanced enabled musicians to record sequences of notes onto computers before playing them back using synthesizers; making production simpler and faster overall. MIDI represented a major step forward for electronic music development as it allowed musicians easier production of songs with greater efficiency.

Electronic Dance Music (EDM), comprising several subgenres such as techno, acid house and trance was an increasingly popular form of musical expression during this era, popular both at clubs as well as fitness centers, warehouses and outdoor spaces. Kraftwerk, Daft Punk, David Guetta and Tiesto were some of the artists known to produce EDM-influenced tunes during this period; Madonna even experimented with EDM when she released her album Ray of Light.

Acid jazz became another mainstream form of electronic music during this era, with artists like Jamiroquai, Incognito and the Brand New Heavies dominating charts worldwide. Additionally, trip hop–a slow form of electronic music made popular by groups such as Portishead and Morcheeba–emerged.

At this time, drum and bass and UK garage genres gained widespread renown in Britain thanks to acts such as The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim, DJ Bobo and 187 Lockdown. These genres combined electronic music with other forms such as reggae, dubstep and punk music genres.

The 1990s also witnessed the advent of large-scale commercial electronic music festivals like Tomorrowland and Weekend Festival, held worldwide across numerous countries and attracting crowds of thousands to listen to electronic music. These festivals provided a platform for many electronic musicians to exhibit their work while also helping introduce innovative technologies into live performances.

The 2000s

In the 2000s, electronic music emerged as an emerging genre, initially popular in dance clubs but quickly becoming more mainstream by 2010, becoming one of the most widely listened-to forms worldwide. Notable musicians embraced its rise and large-scale electronic music festivals emerged.

As computers advanced, music software became more accessible, enabling individuals to produce electronic music using means other than traditional musical instruments. This ushered in a new era of producers, artists, and engineers utilizing Ableton Live DAW and Reason studio emulation respectively to produce top-quality electronic music from just a laptop computer.

Another key milestone was the advent of MIDI, which made computer-based electronic music easier to incorporate into commercial recordings. Musicians could control synthesizers and samplers with keyboard controllers while saving song audio data to digital files enabling immediate editing/changing sounds live.

In the 1970s and 80s, synthesizers dominated popular and rock music as synth-pop and Italo disco styles became prevalent. Synthpop used synthesizers to play melodies while replacing other instruments; it became an important part of New Romanticism movement; notable artists of this era include Duran Duran, Ultravox, Spandau Ballet, A Flock of Seagulls Culture Club Talk Talk Eurythmics among many others.

Progressive rock musicians such as Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis also began incorporating electronic music into their compositions, employing Moog synthesizers to perform rock songs and create complex soundscapes influenced by new-age and ambient influences. Many Japanese musicians also produced electronic rock; one such album produced was Isao Tomita’s Electric Samurai: Switched On Rock (1972). This record featured renditions of contemporary pop and rock songs with Moog synthesizer versions; another notable album was Osamu Kitajima’s progressive rock album Benzaiten (1974).